I am a Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Government & Public Policy and Chancellor’s Fellow in the Center for Energy Policy at the University of Strathclyde. I am also a Fellow at the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP), Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and Associated Researcher at the Centre for the Political Economy of Reforms at the University of Mannheim.
My research focuses on central questions in international cooperation and the political economy of environmental politics and energy policy. Current projects include work on the political economy of carbon markets, formal and statistical models of climate treaties, environmental cooperation through financial incentives, and climate politics in times of Brexit.
My work was published, among others, in the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Energy Economics, and Science Advances. My book on Escaping the Energy Poverty Trap was published with MIT Press in 2018 and offers the first comprehensive political science account of energy poverty. I have written for The Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage, VoxDev, and ISEP. My work has been covered by The Economist.
A common argument in the international relations literature is that multilateral agreements either set ambitious policies and include few states, or they include many states at the expense of lax policies. This conclusion derives from a simple model that captures an important aspect of multilateral agreements: the trade-off between breadth and depth. However, the focus on this trade-off overlooks the cost of staying out. In cooperation problems, such as climate change, in which the cost of non-cooperation increases over time, ignoring this cost renders our understanding of multilateral agreements incomplete. In my game-theoretic model, I capture this aspect by allowing countries, with heterogeneous ideal points, to also vary in their noncooperation cost. Substantively, variation in this cost parameter could come from countries’ higher exposure to negative externalities or domestic opposition to non-cooperation. In such a setup, I can show that broad treaties can be sustained even for deep commitments when staying out is expensive. This result has two important implications for IR scholarship and the breadth depth trade-off literature in particular. First, as the distribution of non-cooperation costs across countries differs by issue, the breadth-depth trade-off must necessarily be issue-specific, too—an insight that is currently overlooked. Second, empirical models of treaty participation that ignore non-cooperation cost are likely misspecified due to omitted variable bias.
A central claim in the literature on economic competition and environmental regulation is that governments are expected to respond to economic competition by lowering environmental standards. Governments do so over fear that firms move abroad in the face of stringent regulation. Recognizing that firms differ in how likely they are to relocate, this paper advances a political theory of regulating different types of firms in a globalized world economy. I argue that relative to domestic producers foreign firms’ relocation threats are more credible, resulting in more favorable regulation. Drawing on an original, installation-level data set, I find that foreign-owned installations in EU carbon markets receive more valuable permits for free. Additional tests and qualitative evidence underscore the plausibility of the proposed relocation mechanism. These results extend research on economic competition and environmental regulation beyond classical command-and-control regulation and highlight the importance of firm heterogeneity in international regulatory politics.
International carbon markets are an appealing and increasingly popular tool to regulate carbon emissions. By putting a price on carbon, carbon markets reshape incentives faced by firms and reduce the value of emissions. While a price constitutes the mechanism by which carbon becomes less appealing, observers have tended to infer the effectiveness of a carbon market from the price of its permits. The general belief is that a carbon market needs a high price in order to be effective. As a result, many observers remain skeptical of initiatives such as the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) whose permit price remained low (compared to the social cost of carbon). In this paper, we assess whether the EU ETS reduced CO2 emissions despite low prices. We motivate our study by documenting that a carbon market can be effective if it is a credible institution that can plausibly become more stringent in the future. In such case, firms might cut emissions even though permit prices are low. In fact, low prices are a signal that the demand for permits weakens and can therefore suggest that the institution is successful. To assess whether the EU ETS reduced carbon emissions even as permits were cheap, we estimate counterfactual carbon emissions paths using an original sectoral emissions data set. We find that the EU ETS saved about 1.2 billion tons of CO2 between 2008-2016 (3.8%) relative to a world without carbon markets, or almost half of what EU governments promised to reduce under their Kyoto Protocol commitments. Emission reductions within regulated sectors were higher.
With the negotiation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015, international climate governance has moved away from a top-down to a bottom-up approach. In this weakly institutionalized policy setup, national governments set their climate action targets voluntarily, and the hope is that these targets become more stringent over time. Implementing costly climate action, however, requires support from domestic populations, which are sensitive to the distributional effects from climate policy. In this paper we argue that individuals react to what they learn about the industrial impacts of climate action, both at home and abroad. Specifically, we contend that people's beliefs over how countries are affected by stringent climate policy are sensitive to information about which economic sectors win and lose from such policy scenario. However, we also conjecture that this sensitivity may be different if the country in question is the home country or a foreign one, and speculate that more general feelings about international embeddedness can explain different effects that winning and losing sectoral information may have in the focal country. Findings from an original survey experiment with a nationally representative sample in the UK shows home bias in how respondents assess distributional effects from climate action: information about winning and losing sectors shapes home country beliefs, while information from abroad is discounted. We also show that people's stance on the international order – measured as Brexit preferences – matters for their belief about the distributive politics of climate change.
International Institutions and Regimes (spring 2020, graduate) [Syllabus]
Global Energy Politics and Policy (spring 2021, graduate)
Dr Patrick Bayer
University of Strathclyde
School of Government & Public Policy
McCance Building, Room #415
16 Richmond Street
Glasgow, G1 1QX